Anyone and everyone who's ever owned a yellow lab and lived to tell about it was probably lined up for the hottest ticket in town on Christmas Day, and the hottest ticket was the entrance into the heart-tugging story of Marley & Me, predicted to be "the" movie of the holiday season. Based on the bestselling book by newspaper columnist John Grogan, Marley & Me explores love and life with what is deemed as the world's worst dog.
And while some might agree, that doesn't mean you won't fall in love with the furry four-legged friend with an appetite for destruction.
It goes without saying that Marley is in a league of his own when it comes to animal antics. The loveable lab's tricks are showcased in the film. From eating the sofa to getting kicked out of obedience school, Marley takes everything to the next level. Before he hit the big screen, Marley had already earned himself a following, thanks to John Grogan's columns in the Sun-Sentinel where Grogan chronicled his misadventures with Marley on a regular basis.
Regarded as a "discount dog," the Labrador retriever was hardly the pick of the litter when Grogan, played by Owen Wilson, and wife Jenny (played by Jennifer Aniston), selected the eager beaver from the dog farm early in their marriage. The Grogans decided that raising Marley would be a practice run to see if they were ready for children. Little did they know that their own kids wouldn't be nearly as trying as Marley. At the end of the day, the Grogans are lucky they even had a house left, seeing that the 90ish-pound lab consumed anything and everything in his past.
As mischievous as Marley was, he was also a devoted dog that stayed by his master's side through thick and thin. He was there when Jenny suffered a miscarriage, when a 17-year-old girl was stabbed in front of her home, when the Grogans made the big move from Boca to Pennsylvania and so on. If you're planning on bringing your kids to see Marley & Me, prepare to address some heavy issues from the heart because there are plenty of them in this flick that's far from light-hearted fare.
Just like the Grogan's three children, Marley was a fixture, although a very irate and worn out Jenny did demand that John find the dog a new home at one point. She quickly reversed her decision, however, admitting that Marley's home had always been -- and would always be -- with them.
Marley & Me has no shortage of laughs, but it also has no shortage of tears. If you're looking for a side-splitting animal adventure, this probably isn't it. Because the movie was based on the bestseller, it's obvious how it will end. After all, while cats may have nine lives dogs most certainly do not. For anyone who's ever loved or lost a precious pet, it's a struggle to make it through the end of the movie.
In fact, this reviewer did not. My 7-year-old daughter and I split just before Marley made his way toward the Rainbow Bridge, preferring to remember him as he was, a devilish dog who just couldn't stir up enough trouble. You see, while my daughter may have been able to accept such an unhappy, albeit realistic, ending, I simply am not.
So when you do learn how it ends, maybe you can fill me in. I'll surely have my tissues handy this time around.